Centering BIPOC Voices at Shipley: Q&A with Bipin Prakash
Tell us about your role and experience at Shipley. I am in my 14th year at Shipley and currently serve as the Director of Technology. I am also a part of the Central Administrative Team.
Your hometown is Coimbatore in India. Can you tell us about growing up there? How long did you live in India and when did you immigrate to the U.S.? Growing up, most weeknights/weekends meant playing cricket with friends from the neighborhood. Summers meant good times with a lot of cousins, eating boatloads of mangoes at our ancestral home. As we got older, my friends and I were active with community service at the Rotaract club. I moved to the U.S. when I was 21 to go to graduate school at St. Joe’s.
What are some important aspects of your identity? What does being _______ (any aspect of your identity / intersections of your identities) mean to you? I take a lot of pride in being Indian. The food, festivals, and cultural traditions are part of what makes up my identity. It is hard to maintain a true sense of your cultural identity when you are around folks who do not have the same lived experience as you. It is a fine balance between engaging others and sharing your cultural gifts and ensuring not to impose your views based on the traditions and the history you grew up with.
Your daughter’s name is Saaya. What is the meaning of her name? How do you instill in Saaya a positive cultural identity? Can you talk about having a multiethnic family? My daughter Saaya’s name means shadow. We have been creating a sense of pride in her cultural heritage by trying to teach her my native language and through Indian music, attire, and food. Honestly, a lot of times, I forget that we are a multiethnic family. For my wife and me, a big part of that is openness, acceptance, and a strong sense of respect for each other’s identity.
What can you share with Shipley faculty and home caregivers about how to create a more inclusive environment for students who share any of your cultural markers? To me, part of being inclusive is actively engaging in knowing the individual. By getting to know me (and other folks with my cultural markers), you get to know more about where we are from, what we stand for, and what we believe in. We might not all have the same beliefs or values, but there are virtues that uniquely bind us, and they add to the diversity of the Shipley family.
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.